Sunday, November 20, 2011

Monkey See, Monkey Do

Today I was watching TruTV's "Top 20 Most Shocking". Some of the things on that show are SO outrageous. The kind of stuff that is so startling and disturbing that it's almost impossible to look away. Many times while watching this afternoon, I would gasp and either cover my eyes or cover my mouth or say something like, "Oh my gosh!" "No Way!" "Oh no!". It hadn't even occurred to me that I was doing it until I hear some one else gasp and then squeal. I look over and my 2 year old son is staring at the tv with his hands over his mouth. I just stared. Another clip of some stunt gone wrong plays out on the TV screen. I watch my son. He again gasps, squeals and covers his mouth. He was totally mimicking me. I cracked up. Mostly because of how cute it was but also because I know he really had no idea what he was watching. It got me thinking though. What else do my kids see and hear me do that they copy?

My 3 year old daughter recently entered the tattle tale stage. It's honestly annoying. I'm so tired of hearing, "Mommy! Anthony is looking out the window!" "Mommy! Anthony is sitting on the dog's bed!" "Mommy! Anthony hurt me!" "Mommy! Anthony stole my toy!" I'm considering changing my name to something long and difficult to pronounce. Anyway. Half the stuff she tattles about isn't a big deal or it's an accident. So I'll often end up saying, "It's ok. It happens." Well, the other day, my son did something that upset himself and I heard my daughter say, "It's ok. It happens."

Anyone who's ever been around kids knows that they copy the things they see and hear. I remember working at my school's 'after school' day care program. One day, while supervising 3 year olds on the playground, I bent over to pick something up. My low rise pants must have shown a little too much (hey, I was a teenager and we all do dumb things when we're teens) because I hear a little boy behind me say, "Look, Miss Abby! I see the moon!" referring to my rear end. I was mortified. Looking back, I'm pretty sure it's one of the funniest things I've ever heard. But something like that, he learned at home or from some one else. He didn't come up with it all on his own.

Years ago, while I was living in Pittsburgh, there was a story that was played over and over on the radio about an 8 year old little boy who stole his grandmother's car, drove it around a parking lot with a 13 year old boy in the passenger seat, smoking cigarettes and crashing into other vehicles. When interviewed about it, the little boy said, "I like being bad. I like doing that hood rat {stuff}..." How sad is that? An eight year old boy using the words "hood rat" and thinking it's cool. Shame on the people who are supposed to be taking care of him for teaching him that it's good and funny to be destructive and foolish. But kids learn from what they're taught.

I knew I needed to watch what I say and do in front of my children. It's one of the MANY reasons why I quit smoking. How am I supposed to be able to tell my kids not to do it when I was doing it? It all brings me back to my previous point of doing my best as a parent to make sure my children understand what is right and wrong. One day, I wont be with them 24/7. I wont be the only influence in their lives. One day, they will be mimicking some one or something else. The next Lady GaGa? The next 16 and Pregnant? The snobby kids at school? The pervert coworker? The teacher with a potty mouth? They will one day be surrounded by people and things that they will want to copy because its funny or pretty or popular. Well, "what is popular is not always right and what is right is not always popular." If I live my life in a way that is above reproach and my children mimic my actions and life until I have to "set them free" then hopefully they will continue to act out what they've learned.

I've got a lot of work to do. It's not going to be easy to consciously watch everything I do and say and watch and listen to. My daughter already tells me, "Mommy, turn off the TV. We watch too much (something I've been trying to explain to them when I turn it off). I want music. LOUD music. Rockin and rollin music." She is already being highly influenced by my own choices. It's past time I started making the right ones. Only God is going to be able to help me with this one. Only by His grace and mercy and faithfulness will my actions positively affect my children. Phew. Got a LOT of praying to do!


  1. LOL....I remember a few times even when you got older, you repeated things we wished had never been heard.....remember Dad's friend cracker? Pray hard, many influences in the world that can take your children, even adult ones down a path of destruction. Prayer is your strongest weapon in the quiver.

  2. Teaching by example is, I think, highly effective. I remember doing everything my mom did when I was little. Yup, it's never easy, but it has to be done.

  3. Monkey see, monkey do. It's oh so true. You're right that it's difficult to watch our words and actions in front of them little parrots but as Pepper said, we have to. I catch myself pausing before reacting to my son's tantrums or screams. It helps me calm down, but not always :) Hey, I'm not perfect.

  4. Abby, I totally get what you are saying and how you feel. God has trusted us to be good role models for our children, who are a blessing from Him. The great news is we can ask God to lead us in our give us a compassionate heart and a patient response to the frustrations we sometimes face as parents. :-). Isn't it wonderful how God pours wisdom over us right when we need it most? Don't worry too much about making mistakes with your kids. Love them and everything else will be as it should.


  5. Please email me! I have a question about your blog! :)

  6. Our kiddos are such little sponges and you are right, we have to do our best to lead by example! One thing I have had to say is Mommies make mistakes too, as long as we learn from them we are doing good.

  7. God doesn't exist and if praying helped anyone there would be some evidence for this.

    1. I am sad that this is how you feel but by your own argument... God does exist. The prayers off people who loved me and people who didn't even know me saved the life of my son when he was dying in the hospital. Prayer does help and there is ample evidence of this.


Search This Blog

There was an error in this gadget